Friday, September 20, 2013

RMNP and Estes Park area severely flooded (Updated 11/15/13).

Updates at the bottom.
Well, I am sure that most of you who are locals are well aware of the effects of the rains we've had in the past week.  I've been talking to alot of people at work and so many have incurred damage from the flooding, and yet there are those who were spared.  I count myself fortunate to be amongst the latter, yet head ten blocks south from my house and things are not just underwater but straight up gone.
The St. Vrain River is more like a creek normally, about fifteen feet wide at maximum, and it blew my mind to see it stretch to over a quarter of a mile wide.
Growing up on the east coast, I did have the experience of several hurricanes as well as Noreasters and the damage from them was nothing compared to this.  I have been reading reports and hearing from friends who live in them that some of the mountain towns that lie along creeks are not just flooded, but gone.  Nothing left.
And to think, last year at this time it was fire that was on everyone's mind.  Now that seems far away.  Estes seems to have been hit hard, with all roads in washed out, and the main road, route 36 apparently washed out completely in several places.  It may be awhile before I am hiking in RMNP again.
I am going to share some photos and videos below, some from myself and some from the park rangers and residents of Estes Park.  RMNP will need some loving to get back into shape.  It is a place that has touched many, and certainly near and dear in my heart.  I am going to suggest at this time that you the reader and myself all band together and volunteer to help clean things up, repair trails, etc. when the time comes and the effort is needed.  As I have said to my hiking partner many times, a day in the park is a good day.
Alluvial Fan, photo copyright RNNP.  September 2013.
Alluvial Fan, hikingRMNP collection.  May 2013.

Junction of Lawn Lake and Ypsilon Lake trails, copyright RMNP.  September 2013.
A different perspective, but the same junction in May 2013, hikingRMNP collection.
 Looking down Horseshoe Falls copyright RMNP.  September 2013. 
 A similar view hikingRMNP collection.  March 2013.
Flood video from Estes Park, water running freely down streets.

More flood video from Estes Park.
Video showing Big Thompson River, North Saint Vrain river.  Times below, you can click to link directly to that portion of the video.  36 between Pinewood Springs and Estes isn't just damaged in one place, but missing completely in several places.
@3:00 Enter Big Thompson Canyon @10:00 Enter Drake @18:00 Enter Estes Park @18:34 Fish Creek Rd begin, North to South @19:24 Country Club Dr @19:41 breached lower earth dam: Carriage Hills. @20:27 Entrance to Little Valley @22:44 Cheeley Camp @23:00 Baldpate Inn/ hwy 7 @23:34 Massive Twin Sisters earth slide above Aspen Lodge @28:00 Big Elk Meadows Rd @29:05 Dead Man's Curve/ hwy 36 @29:40 Pinewood Springs @38:00 Lake Estes/ Olympus Dam @38:47 Starting at Switchbacks (to G Haven).
Rocky Mountain National Park's Facebook page.  This link goes directly to their 2013 Flood Photos page.  Looks like Old Fall River Road is closed for the season....
A fly over of Longmont and Lyons on 9/16/13.  Amazing to see so much water in the places I love to go.
And some good news.  RMNP is incrementally reopening to visitors!  The west side of the park and trails are now open to day use only!
Good news!  RMNP is now 93% open!  However, the furloughs have left rangers at home and amenities unavailable for the time being.  This will also hinder rebuilding efforts.  Hopefully we will soon have a road to get up there as well.
Route 36 between Lyons and Estes Park opened up last week.  I made the trip up this week.  The road is in good shape, completely paved, though there are parts where it has narrowed and parts where the direction has changed completely.  Driving up or down is a sobering experience, as you can see how much damage the road sustained as well as the destroyed houses and businesses around it.  Please exercise caution!

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